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Ronald J Ryel

Water use and carbon acquisition were examined in a northern Utah population of Juniperus osteosperma (Torr.) Little. Leaf-level carbon assimilation, which was greatest in the spring and autumn, was limited by soil water availability. Gas exchange, plant water potential and tissue hydrogen stable isotopic ratio (deltaD) data suggested that plants responded rapidly to summer rain events. Based on a leaf area index of 1.4, leaf-level water use and carbon acquisition scaled to canopy-level means of 0.59 mm day(-1) and 0.13 mol m(-2) ground surface day(-1), respectively. Patterns of soil water potential indicated that J. osteosperma dries the soil from the surface downward to a depth of about 1 m. Hydraulic redistribution...
Hydraulic redistribution, the movement of water from soil layers of higher water potential to layers of lower water potential through the root systems of plants, has been documented in many taxa worldwide. Hydraulic redistribution is influenced principally by physical properties of roots and soils, and it should occur whenever root systems span soil layers of different water potential. Therefore, hydraulic redistribution should occur through the root systems of plants with aboveground tissue removed or through the root systems of fully senesced plants as long as roots remain intact and hydrated. We examined our hypothesis in field and greenhouse studies with the annual grass Bromus tectorum. We used soil psychrometry...
The aridland shrub species, Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush) and Chrysothamnus nauseosus (rubber rabbitbrush), are distributed widely in the Intermountain region of western North America. Earlier research indicated that A. tridentata can utilize upper soil water from transient summer rain events while C. nauseosus apparently cannot, although both species have similar rooting depths. Thus, we hypothesized that C. nauseosus relies more on deep water than A. tridentata, while A. tridentata can take advantage of soil moisture in upper soil layers. We examined this hypothesis by growing A. tridentata and C. nauseosus in two-layer pots in which soil water content in the upper and lower layers was controlled independently....
Encroachment of pinyon–juniper woodland into rangeland ecosystems is prevalent across the western United States. Mechanisms associated with this successful encroachment are speculative, but probably, in part, involve the effective use of water resources. We explored the ecohydrological characteristics of a two-needle pinyon pine (Pinus edulis Engelm.)–Utah juniper [Juniperus osteosperma (Torr.) Little] woodland on the Colorado Plateau in Utah. We have discovered that a high level of natural soil water repellency or hydrophobicity exists under the canopies of both pinyon and juniper species. We found, following summer precipitation events, that soil water repellency under trees concentrated the soil water below...
In western North America, quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) is the most common hardwood in montane landscapes. Fire suppression, grazing and wildlife management practices, and climate patterns of the past century are all potential threats to aspen coverage in this region. If aspen-dependent species are losing habitat, this raises concerns about their long-term viability. Though lichens have a rich history as air pollution indicators, we believe that they may also be useful as a metric of community diversity associated with habitat change. We established 47 plots in the Bear River Range of northern Utah and southern Idaho to evaluate the effects of forest succession on epiphytic macrolichen communities. Plots were...
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